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UNITED NATIONS, Aug 1 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday he is ready to pursue a new nuclear arms deal with Russia and called on Moscow to act in good faith as his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said there could be no winners in any nuclear war.
Both leaders issued written statements as diplomats gathered for a month-long U.N. conference to review the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). It was supposed to have taken place in 2020, but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It occurs at a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the conference. "Humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation." Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com He warned that crises "with nuclear undertones are festering," citing the Middle East, North Korea and Russia's war in Ukraine.
Within days of Russia's Feb. 24 invasion, Putin put the country's deterrence forces - which include nuclear arms - on high alert, citing what he called aggressive statements by NATO leaders and Western economic sanctions against Moscow.
But in a letter to participants at the NPT review conference, Putin wrote: "There can be no winners in a nuclear war and it should never be unleashed, and we stand for equal and indivisible security for all members of the world community." read more Arms control has traditionally been an area in which global progress has been possible despite wider disagreements. The U.N. conference takes place five months after Russia invaded Ukraine and as U.S.-China tensions flare over Taiwan, the self-ruled island claimed by Beijing. read more TIME WASHINGTON "MADE UP ITS MIND"
Moscow and Washington last year extended their New START treaty, which caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads they can deploy and limits the land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them, until 2026.
"My Administration is ready to expeditiously negotiate a new arms control framework to replace New START when it expires in 2026," Biden said. "But negotiation requires a willing partner operating in good faith."
"Russia should demonstrate that it is ready to resume work on nuclear arms control with the United States," he said.
But Russia's mission to the United Nations questioned if the United States was ready to negotiate, accusing Washington of withdrawing from talks with Moscow on strategic stability over the Ukraine c